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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Secretary of State Discusses U.S. Alliance With E.U. on Global Issues

Aired February 27, 2003 - 15:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ARTHEL NEVILLE, CNN ANCHOR: OK, everyone. We're going to go to the State Department now for a news conference with Secretary of State Colin Powell and members of the European Union.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... for braving the blizzards of Washington, D.C. to be with us today. This is a critical time for the United States and our European friends, our European allies. From our shared concern about Saddam Hussein's failure to disarm to North Korea's prohibited nuclear program, our transatlantic agenda is daunting and it is global. Today we focused on four very important challenges: Iraq, the Middle East, North Korea, and Cyprus.

On Iraq, we all share the same objective: Iraq's disarmament, as required under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, Resolution 1441. The United States and some of our European friends do have some differences with regard to the next steps that should be taken, and we are exploring those differences in an open, honest and candid fashion. I was pleased to see the European Council's statement of February 17, which reinforced the need for Saddam Hussein to comply and to disarm.

We're all hopeful for a peaceful solution, but we also understand that 1441 provided for serious consequences if Saddam Hussein did not comply. We in the European Union agree that it is important to keep the focus on Saddam and on his obligations to disarm. Responsibility and the decision to comply with the demands of the international community rest with him and we believe it is time for him to come clean.

On the Middle East, we discussed our commitment to moving forward as quickly as possible with the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) roadmap. As president Bush said yesterday, "Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state."

The president also, once again, last evening, confirmed our commitment to the roadmap, his personal commitment to the roadmap to the peace process, to ending settlement activity, and to finding a way forward to achieve the vision that he laid out in his June 24th of last year's speech, and which also reflects the views of my European colleagues: the quartet and Crown Prince Abdullah and the Arab League's vision, as they have articulated it.

On North Korea, as we said at our last U.S.-E.U. meeting in December, we share a deep concern over North Korea's continuing activities and weapons proliferation and its nuclear weapons program. North Korea, we believe, must honor its international commitments and completely and verifiably eliminate its nuclear weapons program. And the United States welcomes the European Union's efforts to help resolve the matter.

It is a matter of great concern not just to the United States, but to the neighbors of North Korea. And as evidenced by the interest that the European Union has shown in this area, it's a matter of interest to the entire world.

Even as the United States and the European Union work to meet formidable challenges in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, North Asia, we see an extraordinary opportunity to help the United Nations resolve the decades-long Cyprus dispute. Secretary General Kofi Annan is there, as we speak, working with the sides, trying to reach an historic settlement of the coming days, and we firmly support his efforts. We share the European Union's hope that Cyprus can enter the union as a United country.

Another example of our common efforts to resolve disputes is the joint announcement today in Brussels, Athens, and here in Washington of visa restrictions on the leadership of the secessionist Transnistria regime in Moldova. Together, we are sending a strong signal to the secessionist leaders this they must negotiate seriously to bring this longstanding issue to a rapid settlement.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to commend the U.S. and E.U. negotiators who, in the last few days, reached an agreement on the text of extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties. The agreements are now in their final approval process. They will greatly strengthen law enforcement cooperation between us.

Minister Papandreou, High Representative Solana, External Affairs Commissioner Patton, the U.S.-E.U. agenda crosses the Atlantic and spans the globe. It encompasses matters of high moment; indeed, matters of war and peace. It is also filled with day-to-day issues of importance to our citizens.

I look forward to our next ministerial meeting. And Chris, and Javier and George, I thank you all for being with us here today.

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